When was the last time you went to an airline’s office to buy a ticket? Or went to a restaurant for takeaway? Or even the last time you called a cab service and spoke to a representative to book a cab for a slot? That seems quaint at best and inconvenient at worst!
Aided by the internet, digital services have transformed many aspects of our lives. This is largely for the better as avoidable inefficiencies are eliminated. We as customers, get what we need quicker while service providers spend less time on administrative activities, being able to focus on product and service more. This aftermarket revolution has only accelerated in the recent times.
COVID: Bringing digital change to every industry
The global pandemic has accelerated digital adoption and trends that were taking shape. As a result, most industries are taking processes online. This was long overdue and we will see benefits such as efficiency, data-driven insights, etc. The automotive sector is no different. Various reports, including those by Deloitte, IBM and BCG, say it is ripe for digitization. In fact, even pre-pandemic, IBM reported that “half of surveyed automotive executives say that to succeed—or even survive—in the next ten years, they need to reinvent their organizations with digital technologies, supported by data.”
Already, some trends are setting in more prominently than ever before. There is a preference, at least in the short term, for personal transport – as was made clear by India needing to import petrol for the first time in a year. There is a renewed emphasis on hygiene that will long outlast the pandemic. Customers are increasingly comfortable doing things online.
Add to this, a digital-savvy generation is going to buy their first vehicles. They grew up in a world where all their other services were online, and grew up knowing about electric vehicles, IOT, apps, etc. Once high expectations are now standard! And what better place to start, than with the many existing customers?
How digitizing the after-sales process benefits customers
Customers of OEMs will be the primary beneficiaries. They are already used to returning products or getting appliances serviced at home through a few clicks. This experience can now be brought to them for their cars. Apart from the obvious aspect of convenience, this will also help them save time. In India’s traffic-heavy cities, this can be a boon, especially as the average customer stays 30 minutes away from a service centre. What’s more, they can rest assured about quality service and proper invoicing.
There is no need for them to hunt for service centres or download a separate app, as that is integrated with the OEM experience itself. Given the reduced friction, we believe the customer is likely to give his vehicle for servicing more often, meaning it will run better and will be maintained well, leading to overall satisfaction with the brand.
Needless to say, in the age of COVID, this brings with it other benefits such as contactless handling, hygiene, and more, which our drivers are trained for.
The service centres benefit the most
Apart from increased customer loyalty and revenue (chances of gravitating to a third party or unofficial solution decreases), there are other benefits accruing to the official service centre. Logistics becomes predictable – by having visibility of service volume, they can align resources accordingly, leading to optimal bay and personnel utilization. As processes get digitized, OEMs and service centres will generate data, which leads to better insights that can drive business decisions.
Since partners like 21North takes care of these non-core issues for OEMs, getting started is easy, leaving them to focus on their expertise and other aspects of digital transformation. Additionally, the OEM dashboard is a platform with all dealers’ performance information and many analytics and reports.
This is not too far off
The last few months have taught us that the industries and customers are ready for digital processes, and it is in companies’ best interests to offer them before rivals do. In fact, we believe that in a few years, digital pick-up and drop will not be innovative – it will be as expected and commonplace to automobile companies as an ATM is to a bank.
“Digitization of services is inevitable. Throughout history, we’ve seen how technology has helped companies do less of their non-core activities, leading to better products, services and innovation that benefits their customers, their employees and the communities they serve” – Praveen Surendiran, MD, 21North Europ Assistance